Genesis 16:1-6: Reason to the fore

“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, ‘The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.’  Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.  When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.’  ‘Your slave is in your hands,’ Abram said. ‘Do with her whatever you think best.’ Then Sarai ill-treated Hagar; so she fled from her.” NIV UK

The Scottish novelist George McDonald said, ‘In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably, or succeed more miserably.’  God called Abram and Sarai to walk by faith and not by sight. But time went by and sight began to take over. In fact, Sarai couldn’t see how the promise would be fulfilled. So she dipped her bucket down deep into the well of reason and came up with an idea. Her servant girl, Hagar, could have a child for her, with Abram as the father. Abram was still biologically able to have a child. This decision led not only to a major problem in their lives (and Hagar’s and Ishmael’s), but also to the Arab-Israeli conflict in the world

‘’Abram agreed to what Sarai said.’’ That’s not what we want to read. We want to see Abram being a strong spiritual leader in his home; reminding his wife of God’s promises, and calling her to trust Him. Instead, he went along with this human plan. Once again, it’s a flawed Abram we find here. (See also verse 6. It was a terrible abdication of responsibility to allow Hagar to be treated badly).

When things began to go wrong with her plan, Sarai pointed the finger away from herself. Neither Abram nor Sarai come out well in this sorry tale. It shows that people of faith can become distracted, getting their eyes off God and onto themselves. There is a way that seems right to a man, but it ends in death.

‘The detour is always worse than the main road.’ Vance Havner.

PRAYER: Lord, please help me to trust in you with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding.